HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Hillsborough County state attorney Andrew Warren is dusting off the law books as he prepares for any credible complaints of voter intimidation Tuesday, which he says will not be tolerated.
No matter how many times he thumbs through the pages on election law, “I notice something new every time,” he said.
It’s why he’s been brushing up on the code, violations and penalties of voter intimidation ahead of Election Day.
“Elections have been contentious in our country for more than 200 years but I think 2020 is breaking the mold,” said Warren.
We’ve already seen what potential voter intimidation looks like in Pinellas County, when, according to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, two people were armed and wearing security uniforms outside a precinct in St. Pete.
Warren says they’ve also received reports of incidents in Hillsborough County.
“There have been situations in Hillsborough County where people have refused to leave the 150-foot perimeter, where people have been shouting things that were borderline threatening or outright threatening,” he said.
Warren reminds voters, if they want to stand on a street corner and scream their support for a candidate that’s within their right but, “Yelling at somebody and threatening then if you vote this way we’re going to do this to you or getting in someone’s face and a costing them, that is not acceptable,” he said.
You should be careful about what you say inside a polling place. Warren says voters can show their support of a candidate with hats, pins, shirts, etc., but you can not voice it, because it could be seen as intimidating.
“Ultimately we’ll make the decision whether or not to file charges but that doesn’t address the situation in the moment. We want people to understand what they’re allowed to do and what they’re not allowed to do,” he said.
If you believe you, or someone else at the polling place, is being intimidated or threatened, you should immediately report it to an election official at that precinct. Poll workers will make the call if law enforcement is required.
Warren says penalties for voter intimidation can vary from a misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.